Posts Tagged ‘Bill Thornton’

New resource reports votes on business priorities

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Accountability Index

As the 84th Legislature draws to a close, Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce members and the public can use a new online resource, the Pro-Growth Legislative Accountability Index, to review how our North Texas delegation votes on legislation critical to enhancing and protecting the region’s pro-business climate.

The Index, jointly launched in February by the Fort Worth Chamber (FWC) and the Dallas Regional Chamber (DRC), presents a weekly-updated record of the legislators’ votes on measures affecting six areas: economic development, education, health care, higher education, transportation and water.

“We are committed to working together on public policy matters to improve the business environment and quality of life in our communities, and keeping our members informed about regional issues that directly impact their businesses,” said Chamber President and CEO Bill Thornton.

Votes are tracked on key legislation such as HB26 regarding the Texas Enterprise Fund, SB893 relating to public school teachers’ appraisals, and SJR5 that would temporarily dedicate part of the state sales and use tax revenue to the state highway fund.

“Voting records can be difficult for constituents to find online or in a timely manner,” Thornton said. “The Index provides an objective aggregate source for this information specific to our regional delegation.”

All nine senators and 42 representatives from districts in Collin, Cooke, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Grayson, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Navarro, Parker, Rockwall, and Tarrant counties are included in the index.

FWC and DRC leadership and public policy teams met with legislators or their staffs earlier this year to discuss each organization’s legislative agenda.


The Pro-Growth Legislative Accountability Index and weekly reports from the Capitol are at


Chamber president: Vote in May General Election

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015
Bill Thornton, President, Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce

Bill Thornton, President, Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce

Last fall, the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce embarked on a voter engagement campaign designed to encourage our more than 2,000 member businesses to emphasize to their employees the importance of becoming informed on the issues facing Fort Worth and voting in the November elections.

We are again encouraging a similar campaign. We must not allow voter apathy to threaten local initiatives and allow campaigns to be decided by very few voters.  In fact, only 6% of registered voters voted in the last water board election and turnout was in the single digits for city council races in 2013.

This spring, there are races for Tarrant Regional Water District Board, Fort Worth City Council, Fort Worth ISD Board, and Tarrant County College Board.

Once again, we are suggesting the use of motivational tools to encourage voting. For example, giving employees an extra hour at lunch or letting them off work an hour early for early voting.  We are also suggesting that employers consider recognizing those individuals who provide verification of having voted by pooling names in order to conduct drawings for a special benefit, such as a preferred parking space or for a day off.

Early voting runs from April 27 through May 5 and Saturday May 9 is Election Day. We have provided a link to all Tarrant County early voting locations, and a sample ballot by district that includes candidates for each race.  Information on candidates can be found easily on the internet by searching the individual candidate’s name.

In addition, follow this link for information about Tarrant Regional Water District, this link to an overview graphic with stats, and download this flyer to remind employees to vote.


Bill Thornton

President & CEO

Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce




Prop 6 Critical to Long-Term Water Supply – Op-Ed

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

By Bill Thornton

Every day, approximately 1,200 people join the population of Texas, the main reason being that our state is a great place in which to live, work and do business.  And the Texas population is expected to nearly double by 2060. Therefore, it is essential that we keep up with growing demands by providing adequate infrastructure to attract quality jobs and companies.

Water supply is a key piece to this infrastructure.  As a chamber that represents more than 1,900 businesses, we know that along with roads and a favorable tax environment, providing our citizens and companies with an adequate water supply is Economic Development 101.

The largest users of water in our region are the municipal entities that supply our growing population, and that demand is expected to jump by 61 percent, even with conservation measures. Manufacturing, a key component of our local economy, also uses a large share of the region’s water, and manufacturing needs are expected to rise by nearly a third, according to the Texas Water Development Board.

While transportation infrastructure needs are felt by our citizens every day due to gridlock, water needs are less apparent.  As long as water flows out of the faucet, many do not recognize the dire need for a properly funded water strategy.

State leaders have been working on this issue for some time. Then-Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock and Gov. George W. Bush helped pass the State Water Plan into law 16 years ago. But the $53 billion plan, $27 billion of which is paid for by the state, has never been financed.

This is why voter approval for Proposition 6 on November 5th is of the utmost importance.

The Texas Legislature earlier this year authorized the creation of a statewide water fund. Proposition 6 allows for a one-time-only allocation of $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day fund, which will create a perpetual loan fund to help local communities fund critical water projects.

This plan will not raise taxes and all of the money would be dedicated to water projects. The Rainy Day Fund will continue to be strong. In fact, the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association estimates the fund will be replenished fully due to the state’s strong oil and gas production.

Some have argued against Proposition 6 on the grounds that the Texas Water Development Board has $6 billion in bonding authority, which voters approved in 2011.

While the $6 billion in bonding authority is a key financial tool, without the perpetual loan fund, these bonds are issued on a self-supporting basis. That means they are to be paid back immediately, before water projects are allowed to mature.

By passing Proposition 6, the $2 billion will be used in concert with the $6 billion in bonding authority, which serves as a critical loan enhancement.  These loan enhancements provide water districts a lower rate on their loans and a deferral of principal and interest payments for a specified period of time.  This is significant because water projects, like any other infrastructure improvements, are expensive and long-term.  A deferral gives borrowers time to implement the projects and begin collecting from customers. Providers will then use those revenues to pay back the state and replenish the perpetual loan fund.

An adequate water supply ensures continued economic growth and prosperity in Texas. A “yes” vote on Proposition 6 will ensure that long-term supply of water.


Bill Thornton is president and CEO of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce.


New impact fee balances needs, Chamber CEO says

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Bill Thornton, President, Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce

Fort Worth’s rapid growth has far outpaced the City’s means to pay for infrastructure needs created by new development, but the City Council’s Feb. 5 adoption of higher transportation impact fees will help to narrow the gap.

The increase, which goes into effect on April 1, will generate an estimated $13 million annually to help fund 1.5 miles of new infrastructure for new development.

“We’re pleased with the outcome of the Council decision regarding transportation impact fees,” said Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bill Thornton.

“The Chamber Board of Directors voted in January to support the recommendations made by the 2010 Blue Ribbon Task Force the Mayor appointed to review the issue, and that was the option the Council chose.

“This was the best option for balancing infrastructure needs that are critical to quality of life for our growing population without jeopardizing economic recovery in housing or diminishing our competitive advantages for urban development.”

Fort Worth instituted impact fees in 2008. In 2009, a City consultant report identified $1.8 billion in transportation infrastructure needs over 10 years and $800 million in revenue, leaving a deficit of $1 billion – a shortfall that impact fees aim to help remedy.

Transportation impact fees are governed by the state, which requires a new engineering study every five years and multiple service areas for the fees. The fees apply to 19 of Fort Worth’s 27 service areas; the eight central-city service areas have no fee assessment since infrastructure has long been in place.

For more details and to see the 2013 study, go to

To see how the fees will change for various structures, go here.


AA is on a return flight to profitability

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

By Bill Thornton

Bill Thornton, President, Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce

In my 22 years at the Fort Worth Chamber, I’ve witnessed and shared the ups and downs of many local companies. But few have shared news as sobering as American Airlines’ recent restructuring announcement.  My thoughts immediately turned to the thousands of employees who will be affected. Yet successful reorganization will save tens of thousands of good-paying jobs and strengthen American’s competitive position, and that’s good for Fort Worth.

For decades, American Airlines and DFW International Airport have been engines for unprecedented growth and prosperity in North Texas. With 21,000 employees in the region and more than 175,000 people employed by vendors, contractors and others whose livelihoods depend on the airline, American contributes $27 billion in GDP to the North Texas economy.

Since moving back to its North Texas roots from New York City in 1979, American has literally brought the world with it. On peak travel days, American and American Eagle operate more than 750 departures out of DFW. American passengers account for 85 percent of all traffic through the airport — more than 47 million passengers annually.

The Fort Worth Chamber touts those figures in our presentations to corporate prospects that consider DFW and American’s global reach and market access an unparalleled business asset. Indeed, DFW and AA have been instrumental in our ability to attract and retain companies that value the ease of moving people and products, nationally and internationally.

I remember well when American’s former CEO Bob Crandall helped lead the charge to launch a fundraising campaign in the early ’90s to support the Chamber’s economic and workforce development efforts. How ironic that he helped create a means for us to respond now to AA’s situation with the Alliance maintenance facility. If the operation ultimately closes, the Chamber is strongly positioned to be part of the team that recruits a company to utilize this premier facility and offer new employment opportunities.

Aviation is a legacy industry in Fort Worth, providing jobs for generations of residents and benefiting dozens of communities. Pick up most any charitable event program and it’s likely to contain the familiar AA logo. The airline generously supports many causes, from the Main Street Arts Festival and the Tarrant Area Food Bank, to the Cowtown Marathon and the Chamber’s own Golf Classic. AA employees have volunteered countless hours at local hospitals, raised money for children fighting terminal diseases and have made Fort Worth and the region a better place to live for millions of people.

Business leaders throughout North Texas have made tough decisions in this economy. Like many of us, American’s team understands that sometimes tough changes aren’t options, they’re necessities.

There’s a hard but reassuring reality in weighing American’s outlook. Restructuring will significantly improve American’s ability to grow and earn a profit. Growth and profits will fund an industry-leading profit-sharing plan for employees and create new job opportunities. Such results are not without precedent; consider other airlines’ successful restructuring initiatives.

I’m confident that American Airlines is on its way back to a desired destination: profitability.  Yes, restructuring will be a challenge, but American will climb through the turbulence on wings of new strengths.


Bill Thornton is president and CEO of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce.


Super partners map plan for Super Week

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011


After two years of extensive collaboration, Fort Worth’s public and private sectors have scripted a massive Super Week playbook aimed at winning the world’s heart.

Plans cover a vast range of operations in effect Jan. 31 through Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6 and two days after.

From hospitality, security and entertainment to measures preventing counterfeit products, beefed-up public transportation and trained Ambassadors dedicated to helping visitors, the playbook’s packed with Cowtown’s best proactive thinking, said members of Fort Worth First (FWF) – a City-led public-private alliance.

Scores of stakeholders from throughout the business community and government departments comprise 10 FWF committees focused on making sure that Fort Worth soars to star status as the AFC host city while keeping services to residents as top priority.

“This is a classic way of Fort Worth doing business,” said former Assistant City Manager Libby Watson, who retired in 2008 but agreed last fall to serve as FWF coordinator, reporting to Tom Higgins, interim city manager. “The city has a history of coming together, bringing all stakeholders to the table and working on issues.

“But (Super Week planning) is kicking it up a notch,” she said. The two-year effort is an unprecedented length of public-private time spent on one event, she added, “and it has gotten stronger and stronger” with increased participation among business leaders and government officials.

Diversity of experience among participants has paid off handsomely, Watson said. “There’s a lot of cross-pollination” in brainstorming sessions during monthly and weekly meetings at the Fort Worth Police Department’s Central Division headquarters downtown.

“We all learn a lot from each other,” said Fort Worth Media and Public Affairs Manager Jason Lamers, who chairs FWF’s Communications Committee. The group benefits greatly from such an exceptional mix of expertise, including that of young professionals “who are all-digital,” he said, as they have mapped strategies focused on issues ranging from how to best serve visitors’ needs to crisis communication, traffic control and instant-messaging networks.

Visitors will be warmly welcomed and helped by a special group of trained volunteer ambassadors from across this area.

“Mayor Mike Moncrief and Interim City Manager Tom Higgins wanted a strong volunteer corps to act as hosts for out-of-town visitors and turned to the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Fort Worth Chamber to assemble that group,” said Marilyn Gilbert, the chamber’s executive vice president of Marketing.

“With the help of Jay Downie and Downtown Fort Worth Inc., we have recruited and trained a volunteer corps of over 250 people to help guests navigate Fort Worth and metroplex offerings, including transportation, cultural amenities, entertainment and all the activities related to Super Week.”

Anticipating such needs mirrors how Fort Worth “seizes opportunities,” Lamers said.

There’s no greater opportunity than forging strong relations with national and international print and electronic media that will give Fort Worth global exposure. That’s a challenge tailor-made for FWF’s Promotions Committee chaired by Kelly Campbell, Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau’s vice president of marketing communications.

Committee members are “results-driven professionals who are passionate about Fort Worth,” Campbell said, and who have lavished news outlets with information, including an online Idea Book filled with story ideas, contacts and more.

“An e-blast announcing the Idea Book was sent to a list of approximately 600 sports, travel, features and business media contacts across the country and some internationally,” Campbell said.

“Our great city knows how to get things done right and on time,” she said.

“Mayor Mike Moncrief and First Lady Rosie Moncrief had the brilliant vision to understand that Super Bowl XLV would present an unprecedented opportunity for Fort Worth on a global scale.

“Under their guidance, leadership across all levels in various organizations went immediately into action, and Fort Worth is now benefitting from the results.”

Related Links

City of Fort Worth’s complete guide to Super Week.

Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau guide to Super Week.

Mobile Super Week site


Thornton named to “T” Association 2010 Hall Of Honor

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

The Texas State “T” Association recently announced its 2010 distinguished Hall of Honor Class as voted on by the “T” Association Board of Directors at its annual summer meeting, and Fort Worth Chamber president and CEO Bill Thornton is among the inductees.

Induction into the Hall of Honor is the highest athletic honor given to former Texas State letter winners, who have been nominated by their fellow lettermen.

The 2010 Induction Ceremony will take place on November 5, 2010 in the Sac N Pac room at Bobcat Stadium. Each recipient will also be recognized at halftime of the November 6 Bobcat football game versus Central Arkansas. To purchase tickets for either the ceremony or the football game, please contact the Texas State Athletic Department at 512-245-2114.


Bill Thornton was a standout football player for the Bobcats, earning letters from 1970-72. Thornton was an all-purpose player for the Bobcats, specializing in both offense and defense. Bill played a variety of positions including quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end and defensive back.

Thornton holds a B.A. and M.A. degree from Texas State University, where he coached football for 10 seasons before coaching for six years at TCU prior to joining the Forth Worth Chamber of Commerce.

Thornton played an integral part of the success of Bobcat football in the early 1980s while serving as offensive coordinator for the 1980-82 Lone Star Conference Champions and the NCAA Division II National Champions in 1981 and 1982. He also spent time as the offensive coordinator for TCU, leading them to the Bluebonnet Bowl in 1984.

Thornton has served as President and CEO of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce since 2000. He joined the chamber in 1989 as director of local business development and was named vice president of economic development in 1992. During his tenure, the chamber’s economic development division was twice named one of the nation’s top-10 economic development organizations by Site Selection magazine.

Thornton has been recognized as one of the top economic development practitioners by Southern Business & Development magazine and Businessman of the Year by the Fort Worth Business Press. In 2007, he was named one of Fort Worth’s 50 Most Powerful People by Fort Worth, Texas magazine.

Thornton is a member of the American Chamber of Commerce Executive and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Davey O’Brien Foundation. He also serves on the Advisory Board of Directors of the Van Cliburn Foundation and is a former two-term president of the Candleridge Homeowners Association. Thornton has also generously contributed to the Touchdown Team and the Bobcat Club since graduating from Texas State.

He is a native Texan and has been a resident of Fort Worth for more than 25 years. He is married to Fort Worth banker Lyle Thornton and between them share four children and two grandchildren. Bill’s brother, Paul, is also a member of the Hall of Honor.


Mentors sought for young professionals in Vision Fort Worth

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
Vision Fort Worth 2009-2010 steering committee
Vision FW Steering Committee
See detailed list here
Pictured front row left to right: Brianna Broussard, Jessica Cung, Becky Matson, Chad Bolen, Lisa Flinn, Charlie Royer, Emily Schwencke, Jennifer Wright, Elizabeth Northern, Michael Tothe. Back row left to right: Nick Bendian, Andrew Blake, Drew Martin, Katherine Kunze, Lauren Turner, Ryan Haggerty, Kacey Cornelius, Charles Florsheim, Jon Gabriel. Not pictured: Alyson Farmer, Theron Bryant, Rebecca Hackbart, Paxton Motheral.

Successful people stand on the shoulders of giants. And young professionals who comprise the Chamber’s Vision Fort Worth membership are looking for such an advantage.

They’re part of a mentorship initiative supported by the Chamber board that will pair them with Chamber members willing to help groom future business and civic leaders.

“The ultimate goal is to empower our young professionals to achieve and sustain leadership roles in this community,” said Vision Fort Worth Manager Brianna Broussard. “Our hope is that this mentoring relationship will help young professionals feel more connected to Fort Worth and will encourage them to become more civically involved.”

Mentors will attend one Vision Fort Worth event with a mentee, attend one large Chamber function such as the mayor’s annual State of the City address with a mentee, provide the mentee with a tour of the mentor’s office and invite the mentee to one board meeting. Group mentors will host a small group of mentees at their place of business.

“The chance to spend even the slightest amount of time with our city’s leaders is an enormous honor,” said Charles W. “Charlie” Royer III, account executive with Royer & Schutts Commercial Interiors and chair of Vision Fort Worth’s steering committee.

Statistics show compelling need for mentors, Broussard and Royer said, as retiring Baby Boomers pass leadership to emerging talent from Gen X (born between 1963-78) and Gen Y (born after 1978).

Studies show that 23 million Boomers will retire by 2012, but only 10 million Gen Xs and Gen Ys will enter the workforce. Mentor programs will make the difference in that transition.

Chamber President and CEO Bill Thornton knows the value of mentors. “I was blessed to have four people in different phases of my life who had a significant impact on me. Without any one of them, I would not be where I am today.

“Our young professionals need and are seeking these relationships, so to facilitate that, we’ve asked our leadership to sacrifice some time to give the same opportunities to the next generation.”

Whitney “Whit” Smith, Chamber treasurer and chair of Finance, said mentoring “offers an invaluable experience for both parties. It is a very efficient process of connecting people to real-world experiences through one-on-one dialogue and information exchange. An effective mentor program has limitless potential for developing tomorrow’s talent.

“I had two mentors during my early career that gave me encouragement, sound advice and occasionally a healthy reality check by steering me back on track.

“To anyone considering becoming involved, just do it.”